Midwest chain Schlotzsky's uses EzCater to manage its catering business. / Schlotzsky's Midwest chain Schlotzsky's uses EzCater to manage its catering business. / Schlotzsky's

Catering, Event Management: April Restaurant Industry Funding

Union Square Hospitality Group’s relatively young private equity fund, Enlightened Hospitality Investments, has been extremely busy this month. The Danny Meyer-backed fund dropped back-to-back announcements that it would be initiating investments in Atlanta-based event management platform Gather and emerging East Coast restaurant chain Dig Inn.

The funding group is barely 18 months old but it’s moving fast: Dig Inn and Gather mark Enlightened Hospitality’s fifth and sixth investments, respectively.

Note: This is the latest installment of Skift Table’s monthly restaurant funding roundup. To view past lists, click here.


Amount Raised: Undisclosed

Lead Investors: Enlightened Hospitality Investments (EHI)

Skift Table Take: Along with gaining the bragging rights that come with an EHI endorsement, Gather CEO Nick Miller plans to use the cash infusion to ramp up the event management platform’s plans to scale in the near future (it currently counts over 5,000 restaurants using its services). Union Square Hospitality’s entire restaurant portfolio will now be listed on Gather as well, and EHI received a Gather board seat as part of the investment agreement.

Dig Inn

Amount Raised: $20 million

Lead Investors: Enlightened Hospitality Investments (EHI)

Skift Table Take: Dig Inn CEO Adam Eskin isn’t one to play it safe. The company’s newest round of funding will, in part, fuel Dig Inn’s expanding proprietary delivery service, and Eskin wants to open up a full-service concept later this year as well — on top of 10 planned fast casual restaurant openings. “We have a particular point of view: casual and approachable,” Eskin told Skift Table at the time of the funding announcement. “[The full-service concept] is just another way to deliver our perspective on food to more and more people.”


Amount Raised: $8 million

Lead Investors: Sands Capital Ventures and Motley Fool Ventures

Skift Table Take: Online catering marketplace Hungry connects independent chefs with corporate customers looking for a unique catering experience. The platform currently only operates in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., but the future is looking promising: Hungry’s clients within those two markets include heavy hitters like Amazon, Microsoft, and WeWork, and its new bank of investors include former Whole Foods CEO Walter Robb, restaurateur Tom Colicchio, Jay-Z, and Usher (his mother is involved with connecting chefs through the platform). The new round of funding will be used to fuel coverage expansion for the marketplace.


Amount Raised: $150 million

Lead Investors: Lightspeed Venture Partners and GIC

Skift Table Take: EzCater became the industry’s newest restaurant tech unicorn this month when it secured a giant $150 million round of funding from Lightspeed and Singaporean wealth fund GIC. The magnitude of the investment speaks to the importance of the burgeoning sector — while not as flashy as delivery services or ghost kitchens, catering is a $60 billion-plus sector and technology innovation here will have just as significant an impact on the industry.


Amount Raised: $250 million

Lead Investors: TCV and Tiger Global Management

Skift Table Take: Boston-based Toast is the quiet giant of next-generation restaurant point-of-sale systems. It’s relentlessly focused on restaurant tech management — you won’t see it branching out into other businesses — and the approach has worked out extremely well for the six-year-old company. The new capital pushed Toast’s total valuation to $2.7 billion, and the company now plans to turn around and invest $1 billion in research and development over the next five years to build out all of its product offerings, from point-of-sale upgrades to marketing solutions and workforce management tools.


Amount Raised: $16.4 million

Lead Investors: Threshold Ventures

Skift Table Take: The investment is a marked sign of confidence in the significant role that a restaurant’s online presence has in driving profits. Seven out of every 10 consumers go online to view a restaurant menu, according to a new study from the National Restaurant Association, and that’s driving purchasing decisions far more than social media or voice-enabled technologies like Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home.

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